After four weeks in England, TNA finally made its way back to Orlando for some live wrestling action. While the crowd was its usual flaccid self, the show’s development and matches were markedly better than their body of work in the UK.
While the show featured some enjoyable exploits in the ring, the final segment makes the weeklong wait for the next show a difficult one. Hell belt on destroying the gang, Kurt Angle unmasked the leader of the Aces and Eights and was subsequently beaten to a pulp by the gang. Too bad fans could see his face. Angle, on the other hand, was shocked.
Will we find out what Angle knows next week? How will it change the company?
The Aces and Eights/TNA angle is an important one, but not as vital as the situation regarding the World Heavyweight title. With Bully Ray and Jeff Hardy in the middle of a build up at Lockdown for the World Title, the two faces have zero heat. Why TNA decided to pit Frank Kazarian and Christopher Daniels against them this week is puzzling. Although it was entertaining, especially when Ray decided to have fun with Daniels’ apple-tini, there is still no real reason to care about Ray vs. Hardy for the TNA title, besides a great match.
Impact later picked up some slack during the several Sting segments. Sting was entrusted to put together a team to face off with the Aces and Eights for the Lethal Lockdown Cage Match. After needing time to think about adding Magnus and Joseph Park to the team, Sting approached Matt Morgan, who said no, leaving Sting with little options. Sting ultimately announced Samoa Joe, James Storm, Magnus and the returning Eric Young as his team. Devon countered with Mike Knox, Doc, Garret Bischoff and Mr. Anderson as the Aces and Eights team.
Say what you want about the speed in which this match was put together, but with this type of talent (minus the green Bischoff) and add the steel cage and its easy to see this is going to be a fun match.
The AJ Styles montages on the other hand, were far from stellar. When disbelief cannot be suspended, these close to home and personal angles simply don’t work. However, the end of the segment, which saw Styles ride away on a motorcycle, was interesting.
Can Styles be in the Aces and Eights? Aside from Anderson, the group is filled with upper mid-carders. No one guy can “steal” the show. Adding Styles to the “club” would be like adding “The Rock” to The Nation. With Devon and Anderson on the mic and Styles in the ring, The Aces and Eights would be a real force.
The other developments were a treat as well as a great Gut Check match and the beginning of a Rob Terry and Robbie E. feud all filled the card out nicely. With plenty of wrestling action and the development of the Lockdown Card, Impact Wrestling proved this week it’s better in the states.
Although the show flew buy, some of the weaker segments were far too close to the main event. Show structure has always been one of TNA’s biggest problems and although it did hinder the program, it didn’t kill it.
Knockouts Champion Velvet Sky vs. Tara w/Jessie Godderz: Naturally, Tara was the workhorse. However, in a rather quick match, Sky hit Tara with the In Your Face for the clean win.
Austin Aries vs. Hernandez: A nice combination of speed and power here. Aries was on his game with several technically proficient spots. Hernandez played role of the big man well with several power moves including a Gorilla Press Slam and a massive shoulder block. Aries nearly walked out of the match at one point, but Hernandez brought him back. With the Tag Team title in hand, Aries went for the strike but the referee made sure the belt was not in play. With the referee’s back turned, Aries pulled a chain out of his pants, knocked out Hernandez and then, threw the belt down Hernandez’s pants so the referee wouldn’t see it.
X-Division Champion Rob Van Dam vs. Kenny King: A German Suplex from RVD ironically wasn’t the most unexpected thing in the match. Not even a clear count botch by referee Earl Hebner could ruin the contest. The action was fast and frenetic and even went to the outside. There’s a reason why these two are always in the ring together. They have excellent chemistry. When it seemed that King had the upper hand, RVD hit the body scissors and a string of strikes and his signature Monkey Flip and Rolling Thunder. RVD changed things up a bit when he went for the 450 instead of the Five-Star for the potential win. But once he missed, King rallied and hit the Royal Flush to finally win the X-Division title.
Gutcheck: Lei’d Tapa vs. Ivelise Felez: Was it crazy that this was the best match Knockouts match of the year? There were shades of Gail Kim and Awesome Kong matches as the back and forth was sick. Felez (who fans may remember from the last season of WWE Tough Enough) used luchadore-inspired offense and submissions, while Tapa used power. After Tapa used the Samoan Drop, Felez kicked out and won with the Guillotine Choke.
TNA World Heavyweight Champion Jeff Hardy and Bully Ray vs. Frank Kazarian and Christopher Daniels: Ray and Hardy are an excellent tag team. Daniels and Kaz are just as solid. The result was a fun main event with plenty of offense, but little reason. How does this develop a feud or angle between Hardy and Ray? If anything, they’re closer than they were before the match. With a slew of double team moves Ray and Hardy got the early advantage. Daniels and Kaz fought back with good ring psychology, heel tactics and double team moves of their own. Ray was ultimately the star of the match as he used his signature offense including the Urinage, a Side Suplex and a variety of strikes to get the advantage. Ray and Hardy won with an Electric Chair/Swanton Bomb combination for the win.
Patrick Hickey Jr.
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